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August 31, 2004

Biting the Hand that Slaps You

One complaint I've had about my school for over a year that reared its ugly head in a very personal way today is that Con Law is a 2L, 1st semester course. Does any other school do this? I've not come across one, and it frankly seems counterintuitive to structure the curriculum in this manner.

Anyway, today I got put on the hot seat in Crim Pro. Prof CrimPro has a thing where he calls on the same person for the entire class period, 75 minutes in this case. While I read Mapp and Leon multiple times and could have recited the facts, issues, holding and basic reasoning, Prof Crim pro typically doesn't stop there.

I really felt my lack of Con Law foundation. We got into a DEEP discussion of the 4th amendment, textual vs. constructive interpretations, remedies, judicial integrity. While I know what the Constitution says just because I feel its my duty as a citizen, I haven't had the instruction on analysis and construction that 1L's at other schools have had.

Mapp was pretty brutal. Especially since he didn't ask about the 1st Amendment issues in the case that he had told us to think about on Monday. I did better on Leon but the class couldn't have ended soon enough. On top of that, about 45 minutes in, I really needed to piss.

As far as I can tell there are two reasons why Con Law isn't a 1L course here. First, the big 4, Property, Civ Pro, Contracts and Torts, are 6-hour courses. So is Legal Research and Writing. That only leaves 6 credit hours in the first year, which are allocated for Crim Law and, sadly, Legal Process.

Legal Process is a non-substantive, non-procedural, non-anything class that was borrowed from Harvard about 30 years ago that focuses on a variety of topics from legal history to Plato, topics better saved for third year GPA padding courses. Having Legal Process as a 1L is somewhat advantageous because it's an exam for which you don't need to study (I still pity the fools who did), but it would be much better to replace Legal Process with Con Law, or to trim three credit hours from the big common law courses.

My other course involving heavy substantive Con Law, Administrative Law, is taught by the same professor from whom I'm taking Con Law. He started out the class by cautioning the 2L's that they might be lost for awhile. I can deal with that, and while Admin Law is a tad confusing, it's not the Con Law issues that do it, but the Administrative Procedure Act.

The good news is there are 28 class periods left in Crim Pro and there are 70+ people in the class. Given that he calls on only one person per class period, I won't be called on again.

Posted by Half-Cocked at August 31, 2004 10:50 PM


At Mitchell, Constitutional Law is split up into 2 semesters (Powers and Liberties), and both are taken as a 2L. So, to an extent, I understand your frustration. When it comes to analysis/construction of constitutional matters in law school -- my approach was to adopt a philosophy (literal construction) and adhere to it. That seemed to work well and you don't end up getting mired in goofy interpretations by different courts.

First Amendment at issue? Easy: Congress shall make no law. Period. End of discussion.

Search & Seziure issue? Not as simple, but easier than some courts have made it. Take the position that pretty much all government intrusion is unreasonable, and then you need a warrant premised on probable cause.

Posted by: Kevin at September 1, 2004 09:54 AM